Freedom House: ‘Freedom in the World 2014’ Report
Human Rights Watch: World Report 2014
World Report 2014 is Human Rights Watch’s 24th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events through November 2013.
The Full List Of Russia’s Political Prisoners
In November 2013, the Memorial—Russia’s most respected human rights organisation, founded a quarter-century ago by Andrei Sakharov—published a list of 70 people it considers to be political prisoners.
Among the names included in the list are Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev as well as all those imprisoned in the Yukos case, Bolotnaya Square case defendants, Greenpeace activists (both Russian citizens and foreigners) detained in the Pechora Sea following a protest against drilling for oil in the Arctic, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina – members of the Pussy Riot punk band.
The list goes on and the leaders of the Memorial emphasise that the list of 70 is by no means exhaustive—there are more political prisoners in Russia, but the cases that have been included in the list have been carefully screened and verified using extensive evidence and stringent criteria.
The Multiple Faces of Torture – A Study of the Phenomenon of Torture in Russia
In November 2013, the French NGO ACAT (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) published a report The Multiple Faces of Torture – A Study of the Phenomenon of Torture in Russia. The report is based on the results of two years of extensive research and testimonials conducted by ACAT. The work was supported by the European Union and a number of Russian NGOs.
The report is available in
Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to the Russian Federation, from 3 to 13 April 2013
The report, which mentions the Yukos affair and the jailing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, highlights a number of areas of concern to Dr Muižnieks, whose report is the result of a fact-finding visit to Russia earlier this year.
The report is available in PDF format.
H.R. 6156: Removal of Jackson-Vanik and Magnitsky Rule of Law Act
On 16 November 2012, the third anniversary of the death of whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6156 with a wide bipartisan margin, lifting the outdated Jackson-Vanik travel restrictions, restoring Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), and opening up a new visa ban regime against Russian officials accused of grave human rights violations. In a procedural vote to bring 6156 to the floor, Rules Committee Chair David Dreier (R-CA) noted: “A lot of us held out a great deal of hope for Russia, more so than we have right now, just a few years ago, and because we’ve seen backward steps. I’ve talked about my friend Mikhail Khodorkovsky , who, at this moment, is languishing in a Russian prison for simply criticizing Vladimir Putin. I’m here today in large part because I want Mikhail Khodorkovsky to be freed. I want to see an end to that kind of treatment of individuals.”
IBA Khodorkovsky Trial Observation Report, 2011
On 20 September 2011 the IBAHRI released an extensive report on the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian billionaire, former CEO of Yukos Petroleum. The report concludes that the trial was not fair and criticises the lack of equality of arms and the absence of daily courtroom protocols, which in the Russian legal system take the place of transcripts of the trial. The report criticises the indictments, which throughout the trial were unclear as to the precise charges. The accused’s detention also militated against their being able to mount a defence as it hindered their access to legal counsel.
The 46-page report, entitled: The Khodorkovsky trial is severely critical of the prosecution of former Yukos Chief Executive Officer, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, who were convicted of stealing approximately two-thirds of the total petroleum output of Yukos and of laundering the proceeds in excess of USD16 billion. The report concludes that the trial’s processes were incapable of producing clear proof of the theft or embezzlement required for a sound conviction.
European Parliament Resolution (2011)
In this February 2011 Resolution passed by the European Parliament on the rule of law in Russia, the MEPs declare the following: “Expresses serious concern at the verdict in the recent second trial and conviction of MichailKhodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev; emphasises that serious judicial questions have beenraised concerning this and previous trials against the two, and calls for an independent judicial review to be conducted in connection with the pending appeal against the verdict;demands that the Russian authorities do all in their power to improve the judicial system, inline with President Medvedev’s pledges to ensure greater justice and transparency.”
Summary of Human Rights Council Report
An official public inquiry into the second prosecution and conviction of ex-Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev was conducted from April to December 2011, backed by President Dmitry Medvedev and involving a group of renowned Russian and international experts. The inquiry identified serious and widespread violations of the law, finding that there was no valid legal basis or evidence supporting the guilty verdict in the second Khodorkovsky-Lebedev trial, which ran from March 2009 to December 2010, and that the proceedings were severely marred by violations of fundamental human rights. More broadly, the inquiry found that the Khodorkovsky-Lebedev case highlighted widespread systemic problems in Russia’s law enforcement practices and judiciary. The inquiry prompted calls for an annulment of the “illegal” guilty verdict and the release of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, and also for a series of reforms to address the systemic problems illustrated by this case. The inquiry was conducted under the aegis of the Presidential Council of the Russian Federation for Civil Society and Human Rights. All quotes in this executive summary are from the Council’s published findings and recommendations.
PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION FOR CIVIL SOCIETY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
In January 2011, a decision was adopted by the Presidential Council of the RF for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights to conduct a public1 legal expert examination (a scholarly legal analysis) of judicial acts with respect to the criminal case of M.B. Khodorkovsky and P.L. Lebedev (known to the general public as the second case charging the named persons) examined by the Khamovnichesky District Court of the city of Moscow with the issuance of a verdict of 27.12.2010. President of the RF D.A. Medvedev was informed of the intention to conduct the public expert examination, and he, during a regular meeting with the Council on 02.20.2011 in the city of Yekaterinburg, agreed with the potential significance of an analytical report with respect to the given case, drawn up by an independent public expert group.
Open Letter to Medvedev from U.S. Human Rights Groups
In October 2010, several of the leading human rights groups in the United States, including Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, signed an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev calling for the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. The authors writes, “the suspicious circumstances surrounding the initiation of the case and the accumulation of serious allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, including serious, enduring flaws in the charges on which the men are being tried; allegations that serious procedural errors committed by prosecutors were consistently tolerated by the court; and evidence suggesting that investigators engaged in intimidation, harassment, beating, and denial of necessary medical treatment to witnesses and defense attorneys, have given rise to a widespread impression that the prosecution of Mr. Khodorkovsky and Mr. Lebedev is being undertaken for political purposes, contrary to human rights guarantees that Russia has pledged to uphold.”